“Wrestling wants to pander to the ladies through pretty boys and pointless plots.” (Jeremy Scott)
I felt like starting this review with that quote you see above you. See, Jeremy speaks from being a wrestling fan in the past. This was a fandom he was a part of, but like most business backed junctions; there was a need for more paying customers. Now, do not construe my agreement with him as an attack at the female fans; a petty attempt to keep wrestling a “Boys Club” is not something I want to see. I just hate to see a fandom pander exclusive to one gender, at the expense of the other. Not being a fan of wrestling myself, (my relation instead is from friends into wrestling) I cannot express wrestling’s heart; unlike the creator of the new comic Super Pro K.O., Jarrett Williams.
Super Pro K.O. starts out at the fictional Intendo University, where a cow-lick having new student (and our hero) Joe Somiano is getting a tour of the campus. Scouted in for his outstanding track skills and good grades, Joe has been accepted with a full ride. Jump into the future almost four years and we see Joe sleeping on a bus. The sound of the bus stopping wakes him, soon to discover that he is running late for his professional wrestling debut for S.P.K.O. He rushes up to the Silver City Arena where the night has already started. The rest of this first volume takes place during that night of live wrestling. What is on the schedule tonight? First up is Sumo Wrestler Yoko Nono and Native American warrior/Dwayne Johnson self-insertion, Tomahawk Slamson. Next up is a fight between luchadors El Heroe and the Nega Spider. After those fits of wrestling greatness, it is finally time for Joe Somiano to shine. But unfortunately for him, he is up against one tough customer, former deadweight champion and Keith David homage Prince Swagger.
But wrestling is not the only thing going on in Super Pro K.O. The small of stature but large of influence talent manager Puffy has the higher-ups breathing down his neck. They want to make some new cooperative changes to boost their sales. These higher-ups (kept in the shadows in an almost comedic fashion) are only thinking about making the stories edgier and the entertainment Pay Per View centric. What comes as an even bigger startle to Puffy is the need to let older wrestlers go, letting some new blood work in the ring. Let me just say that at least one wrestler is going to have to start finding a new job after tonight. S.P.K.O.’s lead competitor, Rowdy Rumble Wrestlers, has a few means of their own to try to take down their competition.
Super Pro K.O. is the essence of Jarrett Williams put down in panel format. He combines his own style and feel to an interest that has not been seen very often in comics. His distinct character designs are larger than life, but do not try to impose themselves onto the reader. Everyone in this world has these oval faces, Doug style exaggerated noses, and casts similarities to Dragon Balls’ own Akira Toriyama; I think Jarrett’s art style excels at distancing itself from its competitors.
Jarrett Williams thankfully has what many people do not; the ability to equally share the Artist hat with the Writer hat. Now while some of the dialog might come off as unintentionally hilarious, he still successfully conveys the characters’ personality. This one night of wrestling sets up equal action/equal plot. Characters abound in this title, with at least twenty (not counting people who are wrestlers) individually created personalities. Wrestlers like El Heroe and Yoko Nono have families at home to care for, and tag team partners “The Wild Childs” have their late father’s name to uphold. (Brawny men slamming into each other in tights and boots are not the only thing going on in this comic.)
Pros: Jarrett Williams’ art at times can only be described as fantastic, a reason on its own to pay it heed. Its ability to have many concepts going on at the same time; it flows effectively with the many ongoing sub plots. It has the capacity to be engrossing a second time threw.
As with many artists who try to draw in big exaggerated styles, Jarrett is not exempt from the occasional weak panel. His work is not consistent enough to look flawless. He will have a great panel here, but then follows it up with something way beneath his talent. Sometimes the panel layout obscures the action. The dialog might put people off for its amount of “Dude Speak”. The font pushes the boundary between formfitting and just plain goofy, and that might detract from the depth of some of the scenes. While all of the female characters are portrayed in a powerful way, they still have to struggle for screen time with the men.
Super Pro K.O. is one of those titles that we here at Children of The Blazing Fist seek out. It is ambitious and unique, but goes completely unmentioned by people. I believe that Jarrett Williams loves his job and that really shows, but he still needs a lot more to grow. This Oni Press release is only volume one in, but is big enough to tie you over until the next volume comes out. Do not let this one get away from you.